Football is a complicated sport. Sure, we want to believe the men who play are just lumps of muscle without much in their heads, but they have to remember complicated plays and move at lightning speed in order to do well. That’s even harder at every level they move up in the game. The men who play professional football are the best of the best. They’re smart and fast and talented.
They’ve also studied the game for years.
You’re not going to know everything about the game of football in a few posts from me. Hell, I don’t know everything. Not by a long shot. But I know enough to get by, and can fake it the rest of the way. I’ve been watching football for more than three decades. Consistently. I’ve never played, but I’ve watched hours and hours of games, in person and on TV. I can impress men who think they know more than every woman they’ve ever met, and I regularly do.
So can you.
How? Follow three quick and easy tips.
The majority of flags will be thrown because of something that happens around the ball. If you keep your eyes on the ball, you’ll see if the receiver steps out of bounds. You’ll see if he gets one or two feet in after he catches the ball. You’ll see if it gets tipped and thrown off its course. You’ll see a lot. So will everyone else, but you won’t be standing there asking what happened (most of the time) if you keep your eye on the ball.
Watch the quarterback. Or the kicker.
The quarterback is arguably the most important person on the field at any given time. When he’s not on the field, during a kick-off, punt, or field goal attempt, the kicker is the most important person. Why do I say that? Because that’s the person in charge of the play. If the quarterback throws the ball, then gets hit, there could be a flag (the defense can take no more than two steps to allow for momentum – if they don’t stop, they get a penalty). Any time the kicker is hit (unless someone gets blocked into him), a flag comes out. These are considered defenseless players. They shouldn’t be hit at that point. So watch them.
The quarterback will control the game. You’ll see a sack coming that he doesn’t. You’ll see where he’s going to throw the ball before he lets go. You’ll see a perfectly timed leap by the defense to block that pass. You’ll see a lot if you keep your eyes on the quarterback.
The kicker is the same. When he’s getting ready to kick the ball, you’ll see him focused and ready. You’ll see him focused, even with someone charging him. Players can try to block a kick, but they’re not allowed to hit the punter or kicker. It’s ugly when that happens. Picture it. The punter has the ball, punts it away, his leg is up and he’s balanced on one foot. And a huge man comes in and tackles him. That could end a career. So he’s protected. Now, if the snap sucks and he has to chase the ball and becomes another player on the field, that’s different. He can be tackled, but if he’s kicking, he’s somewhat safe. (It is football!)
A lot happens at the line of scrimmage. It’s where the ball is set at the beginning of each play. If someone jumps before the snap, you’ll see it watching the line. After the snap, the quarterback has to know where the line is so he doesn’t step over it and throw the ball. If he does, it’s a forward pass, which isn’t allowed in front of the line of scrimmage. It’ll also tell you if the offense moved the ball or got taken down for a loss. The men on the sidelines with the orange markers will show what down it is and you can judge how far the ball needs to go. On TV, they use colored lines to show you all this. You know it’s important if they developed technology to make sense of it!
It was quick, and it was dirty, but I hope you learned something through this short series of posts. I love football. It’s my favorite sport to watch, so much that I barely care who’s playing when I watch a game. It’s a fun game, and if you’re in the US, it’s everywhere! Bring on football season!
Where do you keep your eyes during a play?
She doesn’t have time for a cocky football player or a relationship. She doesn’t really want him either. At least, that’s what she tells herself. Then he makes her laugh, and makes her feel beautiful, and she’s not sure what she wants anymore.